OPINION PIECE - MIXED MARTIAL ARTS IN WA
July 22, 2016
Labor Senator for Western Australia
Opinion Piece – Mixed Martial Arts in WA
I write in relation to comments made this week by the new President of the Western Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Andrew Miller concerning Mark McGowan's announcement that if successful at the next state election, WA Labor will overturn the ban on fenced enclosures for mixed martial arts events in Western Australia.
In an interview on 720 on Thursday morning, Dr Miller accused the Western Australian Labor Party of taking donations from the UFC and potentially other lobby groups against the ban and attributed this to Mr McGowan's decision to overturn the current ban on fenced enclosures when in Government.
I have to ask, what evidence does Dr Miller have of this claim?
This would be akin to me suggesting that the AMA is open to taking donations or financial offerings from cashed up Pharmaceutical companies to curry favour.
What's different between Dr Miller and I however is that I don’t make unfounded, irresponsible and disgraceful comments without any proof to back up my claims.
Dr Miller has said that WA Labor has serious questions to answer over its decision to overturn the ban.
As a medical practitioner and the representative of the industry body which looks after the interests of doctors across the many different areas of the medical profession, I would say that Dr Miller has his own questions to answer.
Dr Miller and the Australian Medical Association in Western Australia forget that mixed martial arts is legal in WA. The Barnett Government by banning the fenced enclosure has made this sport less safe.
Why do Dr Miller and the AMA in Western Australia support a less safe environment for athletes?
When Adam Shand in an interview on 6PR this week pointed out that fenced enclosures actually prevent athletes from falling out of the ring and onto a concrete floor, from a height of approximately 2 meters, Dr Miller's response was that an alternative to the cage would be to simply put mattresses on the floor.
Dr Miller would not acknowledge that fenced enclosures make mixed martial arts competitions safe.
Dr Miller then made the outrageous statement that the "UFC is about giving someone a brain injury".
When asked what his evidence was, Dr Miller could not provide any empirical data or statistics to substantiate any of his claims.
I would like to point out to Dr Miller that the ban imposed by the Barnett Government in March 2013 was made against advice given by the WA Combat Sports Commission, a government body that supports the use of a fenced enclosure.
What does Dr Miller say to the many doctors and health professionals it claims to represent who work in combat sports and who support measures, like fenced enclosures, that improve the safety of athletes?
Throughout my campaign to overturn the ban of fenced enclosures and to bring a UFC event to Western Australia, I have been contacted by many people who are frustrated by the fact that mixed martial arts in WA is legal however the measure which protects the athletes the most in this sport is not.
One person who reached out to me was the emergency medicine specialist and the main doctor for Combat Sports in WA. He told me that in the absence of a fenced enclosure, he has seen extensive injuries from competitors being ejected through the ropes. It is because of this that he supports any action that will make the sport safer, including the reintroduction of the fenced enclosures. What does Dr Miller say to him?
Dr Miller's ignorance on this issue is staggering and I think he and Mr Barnett have a lot of soul searching to do.
In the space of a couple of days, Dr Miller has accused Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Labor Party of corruption and has insulted the many hard working and committed athletes of mixed martial arts, and its thousands of supporters, by demeaning their sport and labelling it a "concussion loving blood sport".
I call on Dr Miller to retract his comments regarding political donations and his views relating to mixed martial arts and apologise for the offence he has caused as a result.
The doctors, health professionals and in extension, the patients of Western Australia deserve better representation than this.